Would Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche have visited Tibet if the Chinese Government had invited him instead of Akong Rinpoche in 1983?

One explanation of Akong Rinpoche’s 1983 acceptance of the Chinese Government’s invitation to visit occupied Tibet is that he did it for the benefit of the people he thought he could help in occupied Tibet by doing so. Fair enough.

I’m so glad the Chinese Government didn’t approach Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1983 to visit occupied Tibet. On another thread here I was discussing Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche earlier. I published a hot take on Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche years ago and I’m to this day getting comments on it.

Nobody appears to care about Akong Rinpoche by comparison. One, maybe two people have over the years had something to say about Akong Rinpoche here. He was a decent human being. I get that. What he did makes sense, in retrospect. Of course he collaborated with the Chinese Government. It’s not like he ever claimed to have done otherwise. He left to history to judge what he had done.

Historically, the consequences of what he did when he accepted the Chinese Government’s invitation to visit occupied Tibet in 1983 are with us to today in the 17th Karmapa and his promise to the Chinese Government to return the Black Crown to Tsurphu.

In regards to my hot take on the question of what Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche would have done if the Chinese Government had invited him to visit occupied Tibet in 1983 is that he would have declined to take it up. Unlike as with Akong Rinpoche, Chogyam Trungpa believed his people’s future was not with the Chinese Government, a dictatorship, but instead in the West, living in a democracy. As far as their Buddhism was concerned it is well known how they parted company at Samye Ling over there differences on that subject.

It is hard to emphasize too much though just how unthinkable, how outside the box the Chinese Government’s invitation to visit occupied Tibet extended to Akong Rinpoche was in 1983. The Cold War was on and Reagan had the Pope in Poland, Radical Islam in Afghanistan, and the Dalai Lama on China’s border in India weaponized against the Godless Communist threat to his God fearing United States of America.

I don’t see Chogyam Trungpa wanting a piece of such madness. Thrangu, Akong and Khenpo Karthar Rinpoches were perfect for the job though, what they all saw to be their last best chance to save Tibetan Buddhism in the only form they have ever known it, with monasteries filled with children to be taught as was the case of the Tibet they fled into exile as young men.

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Donald Trump just made the 17th Karmapa’s promise to return the Black Crown to Tsurphu all that much harder

Since Mao’s death in 1976 it has been the policy of the United States of America to play nice with China’s Government. Reagan saw in Mao’s successor Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms the beginning of the end for Communism in Mainland China, the conventional wisdom of the day.

So much for said conventional wisdom thanks to Donald Trump’s phone call with the President of Taiwan the other day and his doubling down on said call on Twitter over the weekend. The man is incapable of admitting that speaking with the President of Taiwan was a mistake. Buckle up world, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

I submit for your consideration here this morning that it was the above cited conventional wisdom in regards to China’s future after Mao’s death which allowed for Akong Rinpoche’s first visit to occupied Tibet at the invitation of the Chinese Government in 1983. And furthermore that without said trip by Akong Rinpoche the Chinese Government would never have recognized the 17th Karmapa. And so on.

Thanks to Donald Trump decades of conventional wisdom in the United States of America about China has been disrupted. And furthermore in light of said disruption the Chinese Government’s choice for 17th Karmapa, the how, what, and why of how it came to recognize said Karmapa and his presence in India is now problematic. All of which can only make it all that much harder for the 17th Karmapa to fulfill his promise to the Chinese Government to return the Black Crown to Tsurphu.

As the story goes it was only a matter of time before India allowed the 17th Karmapa to visit Rumtek Monastery where the Black Crown has resided since the 16th Karmapa fled the very same Chinese Government whom his successor the presumptive 17th Karmapa promised to return said Black Crown to, the culmination of a 35 year collaboration between the Chinese Government and the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism all jacked up by the blackest of black swan events in diplomatic relations between Mainland China and the United States of America since Richard Nixon, the election of Donald Trump as the next President of the United States of America. 

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The Black Crown’s return to Tsurphu: 17th Karmapa one step closer to making good on his promise to the Chinese Government 

I submit for your consideration from the Times of India its reporting on the 17th Karmapa’s progress in making good on his promise to the Chinese Government to return the Black Crown to Tsurphu Monastery.


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The future of Tibetan Buddhism: A picture of HHDL and 17th Karmapa today meeting with 800 Tibetans from China

If anyone wants to see what the harmonization of Tibetan Buddhism and the Chinese Government looks like here it is.

Picture credit RFA

Note the banality of thr Chinese government’s triumph over the Tibetan people (the 17th Karmapa is seated behind HHDL) normalized over decades now by their leadership in exile come to fruition.


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According to Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche there are no stories of Milarepa being a monk and studying Tibetan Buddhist scriptures 


མདོ་རྒྱུད་ལུང་དང་རྒྱ་བོད་མཁས་གྲུབ་གསུང་། །

བྱིན་རླབས་ཆེ་ཡང་ཕལ་པས་གོ་བ་དཀའ། །

Tibetan text from Karma Chakme’s The Quintessence of the Union of Mahamudra and Dzokchen

“The sutra and tantra scriptures and the writings of scholars and siddhas of India and Tibet

Have great blessing, but it is difficult for ordinary beings to understand them.”

English translation Yeshe Gyamtso

“The Buddha’s teaching bear great blessing and the commentaries on them written by great masters of India and Tibet, such as the eighty-four Mahasiddhas, embody great blessings because they are authentic presentations of the definitive meaning of the Buddha’s teachings. Of course they are worthwhile and valuable, but it is difficult for most people to understand them. It is also not necessary. We can see many historical examples of people who emphasized the practice of the specific instructions of their teachers and attained complete liberation. One example is Jetsun Milarepa’s intense use of the instructions he received from his guru. There is no story that Milarepa went into a monastic college to study Buddhist philosophy.”

From Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche’s commentary on the above noted text published by KTD Publications

According to China’s 17th Karmapa narrative His Holiness is in India to retrieve his Black Crown from Rumtek monastery in Sikkim and return it to Tsurphu Monastery in occupied Tibet. Apparently the Chinese authorities have a letter in which the 17th Karmapa said this was his purpose in leaving Tsurphu in the first place.

To that end the 17th Karmapa’s monks in Sikkim in July of this year went on a 90 day hunger strike to force the Indian Government to allow the 17th Karmapa to visit Sikkim. They took turns not eating between meals for 90 days and called it a hunger strike. India’s government wasn’t impressed.

The government of India will no doubt someday negotiate an agreement with China in which India gets to keep Sikkim and the 17th Karmapa returns the Black Crown to Tsurphu Monastery in occupied Tibet but the Indian Government isn’t there yet. All of which brings us to today’s discussion, that of monks and what monks in Tibetan Buddhism become monks as children to do, which is to memorize and study scriptures, the sutras, and the tantras if they excel in their studies.

Obviously the 17th Karmapa has no such monks in Sikkim if these knuckleheads thought the Indian Government, the people whom invented the hunger strike, would be pressured into allowing the 17th Karmapa to visit Rumtek monastery in Sikkim by their publicity stunt of a hunger strike, but ideally at least in Tibetan Buddhism you have to be a monk since childhood to study these scriptures, and here’s the rub in this discussion, the study of said scriptures is not a path to liberation. As Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche notes in his above cited commentary there are no stories which have Milarepa being a monk and studying Tibetan Buddhist scriptures.

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Teaching Tibetan Buddhism only became a thing for Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche after the 16th Karmapa died in 1981


མང་དུ་ཤེས་ཀྱང་ཉམས་སུ་བླངས་ན། །
རྒྱ་མཚོའི་འགྲམ་དུ་སྐོམ་གྲིར་ཤི་དང་འདྲ། །
མཁས་པའི་མལ་དུ་ཐ་མལ་རོ་འབྱུང་སྲིད། །

Tibetan text from Karma Chakme’s The Quintessence of the Union of Mahamudra and Dzokchen

“Even though you know much, if you do not practice,
It will be the same as dying of thirst at the shore of a vast lake.
It’s possible that you will become an ordinary corpse on a scholar’s bed.”

English translation Yeshe Gyamtso

“Even if you come to know all the teachings and commentaries, if you study and never get to the time where there is no more to study, if you devote your life to just studying and never practice, then you are adjacent to the material that could bring about your liberation, but never practicing it is like never drinking the water. It is like dying of thirst on the shore of a vast lake.”

“There is the danger of leaving an ordinary corpse on a scholar’s bed. This means that if you study and become some kind of superscholar but do not practice, you would die an ordinary death as bewildered as anyone else. You would certainly have established the habits and the seeds of your future liberation, but you would not be able to attain liberation in this life. Although our bed might be renowned as the deathbed of a scholar, the body left there would be the body of an ordinary, confused sentient being.”

From Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche’s commentary on the above noted text published by KTD Publications

What brought the 16th Karmapa to America was the commitment of my generation of dharma practitioners to his Mahasiddha inspired crazy wisdom Karma Kagyu lineage’s direct path to liberation which he saw in those of us whom over the course of the decade plus prior to his decision to establish himself here were showing up at his monastery in Sikkim, India, expecting him to point out the true nature of their minds for them.

Before I took refuge with Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche in 1981 I had already read everything I could get my hands on how to meditate in the Buddhist tradition and had been sitting regularly since 1977 when I discovered Shunryo Suzuki’s “Zen Mind, Beginners Mind”, as so many of my generation of dharma practitioners did.

This is why the 16th Karmapa sent Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche to the United States of America, not to teach us Tibetan Buddhism but instead to point out the true nature of our minds to us, that which we wanted, not Tibetan Buddhism but instead his path to liberation, that which Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche was uniquely qualified to do on the 16th Karmapa’s behalf as one of three Tibetans, the other two being Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Thrangu Rinpoche whom along with Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche had received pointing out from Khenpo Gangshar prior to China’s occupation of Tibet.

Teaching Tibetan Buddhism (a process which begins in childhood for Tibetans) to Americans only became a thing for Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche after the 16th Karmapa passed into Parinirvana here in 1981 and Akong Rinpoche began working in 1983 with the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party in occupied Tibet.

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The 16th Karmapa did not come to America to school us to become Tibetan Buddhists


མདོ་རྒྱུད་གཞུང་ལུགས་རྒྱ་ཆེ་གྲངས་མང་ཡང་། །

ཚེ་ཐུང་ཤེས་རབ་ཆུང་བས་མཐའ་ཆོད་དཀའ། །

Tibetan text from Karma Chakme’s The Quintessence of the Union of Mahamudra and Dzokchen

The sutras, tantras, and commentaries are vast and numerous,

But it is difficult for those with little wisdom and short lived to fully understand them.

English translation Yeshe Gyamtso

“No one person needs to study or attempt to practice all of these, because, first of all, all of the Buddha’s teachings are intended for the same person. They are directed to the needs of different individuals. Secondly, it would be impossible to attempt to reach the end of these teachings, and then of implementing them practically.”

“This is not to saying we lack intelligence. Rather, the question being raised for us is: do we want to devote ourselves to the extensive study of a great deal of material? The point here is that you do not necessarily need to do that. According to this presentation, not only is it unnecessary to study all the Buddha’s teachings and all of the commentaries on them, but even if you devoted your life to doing so and had no time to practice, all of your study would still not bring about your liberation.”

From Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche’s commentary on the above noted text published by KTD Publications


In 1974 when the 16th Karmapa first visited the United States of America it was not to school Americans on how to become Tibetan Buddhists but instead to in his time pay forward to Americans that which the Mahasiddha’s of India had in their time entrusted to those Tibetans who established their crazy wisdom lineage in Tibet. Just as this dharma had disappeared from the India of the Mahasiddhas so had this dharma disappeared from the Tibet of the 16th Karmapa as such. This is how the swan came to lake, to borrow a phrase from the time. Tibetan Buddhism was not on the 16th Karmapa’s agenda. Unlike as with the Buddhism taught by the 16th Karmapa’s predecessors to centuries of Tibetan monastics, generations of children raised to live their lives as monks in monasteries, the Buddhism the 16th Karmapa introduced to my generation of Americans was a path of liberation, we would accept nothing less from the 16th Karmapa and as such not suitable for monks living in monasteries since they were children studying Buddhists texts.

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On April 14, 2016 Jamgon Kongtrul the 4th disappeared from his monastery and has not been seen in public since

We have not heard from Jamgon Kongtrul the 4th since his August Facebook posts in which Rinpoche complained about being bullied by monks of his former monastery, Jamgon Kongtrul the 4th returned his monastic vows to the 17th Karmapa on April 14, 2016, (as did Trungpa, Traleg and Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoches to name but a few well known Rinpoches that returned their vows to the 16th Karmapa without incident), to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor, which as the reincarnation of Jamgon Kongtrul the 3rd (who committed suicide in 1992 rather than collaborate with the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party to recognize a 17th Karmapa) if Jamgon Kongtrul the 4th as a holder of the 16th Karmapa’s Mahasiddha inspired crazy wisdom Karma Kagyu lineage wants to become a doctor is his prerogative not even the 17th Karmapa has the right to prevent him from doing so, that being said the 17th Karmapa (whom for months conspired with Jamgon Kongtrul the 4th’s former monastery to keep from us Rinpoche’s decision to return his vows to him)
thinks otherwise, long story short this is where we are today, at present Jamgon Kongtrul the 4th is at risk of being deported to China by the Indian government (Rinpoche was smuggled into India as a child by his parents whom feared their child’s being recognized as a “living Buddha” by China) unless the 17th Karmapa goes against the wishes of China and intervenes with the Indian Government on Rinpoche’s behalf, a decision that countless Karma Kagyu around the world (my August 2, 2016 post on Jamgon Kongtrul the 4th’s decision to return his vows to the 17th Karmapa has generated 4,506 views to date) anxiously await.


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Winter is coming, the 17th Karmapa is a racist, pass it on

I submit for your consideration as I enjoy my cup of coffee this morning between meditation sessions that if I wasn’t white, yes, I’m going there, I am white, Tibetan Buddhists, specifically followers of the 17th Karmapa (whom are by definition racists in their belief that Tibetans, any Tibetan, is better than the most accomplished dharma practitioner whom is not Tibetan), said followers of the 17th Karmapa, a textbook example of a 21st century racist, (thanks to globalization and the rise of China as a world power China has replaced the United States of America as the most racist country in the world), born and raised in the most racist country in the world today, if you don’t believe me on this point just ask anyone whom isn’t Chinese who has the experience of living in today’s China, (the typical Chinese person, and the 17th Karmapa is nothing if not typically Chinese in this regard, has nothing but contempt for white people, especially Americans such as myself), would flock to Chicago KTC to sit as my feet as a lama of the 16th Karmapa’s Mahasiddha inspired crazy wisdom Karma Kagyu lineage, (not that as a lama I aspire to such an unequal relationship with my fellow Karma Kagyu), earlier this morning I had to delete a racist comment posted by a racist follower of the 17th Karmapa here, “Wow, you so wise white man”, in response to my explanation of the Karma Kagyu meme made popular by the 16th Karmapa that “nothing happens” here, (yes, despite my being white I am an accomplished dharma practitioner in my own right), which is why I feel justified despite my race, in playing the race card by calling out the 17th Karmapa’s racism as I did here previously with the Dalai Lama’s racism as being no different than the racism of Donald Trump, (the last gasp of 20th century racism in the United States of America), for if our country does somehow survive a Trump presidency it have to henceforth be a less racist country than the country which elected Donald Trump as the next President of the United States of America, which as hard as it obviously is for us to think of racism as being unique to a particular race of people, we must if we have any chance disrupting Donald Trump’s racism from destroying our country, long story short, winter is coming, the 17th Karmapa is a racist, (say no to racism in whatever form it takes), pass it on.


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On being a Karma Kagyu lama in Donald Trump’s post-factual America in which nothing is as it appears

Nine days into what could well be an eight year Donald Trump presidency, nine days since we allowed this man to become President of the United States of America, a Bernie Sanders supporter whom unlike so many of my fellow Americans whom had this or that issue with Hillary Clinton and thus chose to not vote or voted for a third party candidate as a matter of principle, I instead chose to put my country before my idealized Buddhist world weariness and got off my meditation cushion and voted for Hillary Clinton last week, I didn’t like it but I did my civic duty, notwithstanding my years of cultivating the Buddhist ideal of being weary of samsara, that which turns our minds to the practice of the dharma, my being an accomplished dharma practitioner who like so many of my generational cohorts were the early adopters of this or that Buddhist tradition, despite how as a young man I sat in awe at the feet of my born in Tibet Rinpoche, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, back when he had a full head of hair, so unlike how Rinpoche looks today, he actually wore it longish, disheveled, as I did my own, as unimaginable as this may be to the generations of my fellow Americans whom have in the decades since followed in my footsteps to became followers of my guru, my Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche whom fled to our country from Tibet after suffering for almost decade being interned at Buxador by the Indian Government for being an undocumented Buddhist migrant in Hindu India, the exact same thing that Donald Trump will do with our undocumented immigrants as President of the United States, my Rinpoche whom came to America with nothing but the robes on his back, fresh off the boat as my parent’s described their own parents whom in their own time migrated from somewhere else to start their lives anew as Americans, my beloved guru whom could unlike my own parents and grandparents seemingly read me like a book without my even needing to utter a word about myself in his presence, all of this narrative of my life as a Buddhist, as I take a moment between meditation sessions in my retreat from samsara to share my thoughts here, I haven’t worked a day in over a decade, sitting here enjoying a cup of coffee while my cat, Jack, grooms himself beside me, it all seems so dated, so out of touch, so all about me, irrelevant to the situation I find myself in as a lifelong dharma practitioner, a lama of the 16th Karmapa’s Mahasiddha inspired crazy wisdom karma Kagyu lineage, today nine days after we the people allowed Donald Trump to become President of the United States of America, the beginning of a brave new world for Americans in which facts, the appearance of things, how something appears to an unenlightened mind and my pointing out their true nature to anyone whom I encounter inclined to listen to me as Khenpo Gangshar himself did after putting his life as a monk at Surmang Monastery behind him to henceforth dedicate himself to the thankless task of pointing out the true nature of the mind to any and all whom he encountered outside the walls of his hermitage and its inhabitant’s whose world weary Buddhist habits unchanged over countless ages since the time of the Buddha himself were soon to be relegated to the dustbin of history by China’s occupation of Tibet, simply no longer matters in Donald Trumps America, Khenpo Gangshar’s example to his fellow Tibetan monastics on the eve of China’s occupation of Tibet which my guru in his early days as an immigrant here in America before he became the the symbol of the Karma Kagyu establishment he represents today to his multitude of followers when he accepted me as a disciple in my neighbor’s sunroom which she and her husband had converted into the first home of what today is Chicago KTC no longer feels like it is enough for me as a Buddhist to aspire to as a dharma practitioner, I can’t help but think that nine days after Donald Trump became the next President of the United States of America that all that I have aspired to as a Buddhist, following the example of Khenpo Gangshar, the father of the crazy wisdom Karma Kagyu lineage of which I am a lama of, seems hardly sufficient to me given the enormity of the circumstance I find myself confronted with as a Buddhist nine days into what could well be eight years of Donald Trump being the President of the United States of America.


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